Where Have All the Good Times Gone – Every generation thinks that way. #MusicisLife #TedTocksCovers #TheKinks #RayDavies #TheShapes #DavidBowie #VanHalen #EddieVanHalen

Today’s feature will be somewhat multi-phased.

It all begins with The Kinks and their 1965 classic ‘Where Have All the Good Times Gone’. This longing for the good ol’ days was released as the B-side of ‘Til the End of the Day’ in November of that year. Subsequently, the two tracks appeared on The Kinks 1965 album ‘The Kink Kontroversy’.

‘Where Have All the Good Times Gone’ is yet another example of the astute sociological perspective offered by Ray Davies in his lyrics. He managed to channel his keen observations of the generation before, waxing poetic about days gone by. The conversations usually took place in pubs, so the grievances were flowing like your favourite beer on tap. This was the result.

Well, lived my life and never stopped to worry ’bout a thing
Opened up and shouted out and never tried to sing
Wondering if I’d done wrong
Will this depression last for long?

Won’t you tell me
Where have all the good times gone?
Where have all the good times gone?
Well, once we had an easy ride and always felt the same

Time was on our side and I had everything to gain
Let it be like yesterday
Please let me have happy days
Won’t you tell me

Where have all the good times gone?
Where have all the good times gone?
Ma and Pa look back at all the things they used to do
Didn’t have no money and they always told the truth

Daddy didn’t have no toys
And mummy didn’t need no boys
Won’t you tell me

Where have all the good times gone?
Where have all the good times gone?
Well, yesterday was such an easy game for you to play
But let’s face it things are so much easier today

Guess you need some bringing down
And get your feet back on the ground
Won’t you tell me

Where have all the good times gone?
Where have all the good times gone?
Where have all the good times gone?

Ray Davies

The maturity of Ray Davies’ lyrics was noted by their tour manager at the time who observed that the band was writing about themes usually reserved for people twice their age. For Ray Davies’ part, he was just aiming to bring things into focus, and the result was a song that not only stands the test of time, but no matter the generation, the air of discontent remains relevant. Here is Ray Davies’ reflection on the inspiration for the song.

 We’d been rehearsing ‘Where Have All the Good Times Gone’ and our tour manager at the time, who was a lot older than us, said, ‘That’s a song a 40-year-old would write. I don’t know where you get that from.’ But I was taking inspiration from older people around me. I’d been watching them in the pubs, talking about taxes and job opportunities.”

Ray Davies

It’s over 55 years later and who can’t relate? This conversation has been playing out globally for decades. Ray Davies had the fortitude to capture the sentiment in four simple verses and a chorus, and his brother Dave Davies built a classic guitar riff that reached out and grabbed the listener by the throat. The end result basically serves as a pub scene.

Sit down. I’ll buy you a pint. I’ve got something to tell ‘ya mate.”

Bar Patron

In addition to Ray Davies’ generational reflection there is also a lot of merit to the idea that he was writing about The Kinks and their internal challenges. ‘Challenges’ may be an understatement, actually. After the initial success of ‘You Really Got Me’, ‘All Day and All of the Night’ and ‘Tired of Waiting for You’ over the duration of their first two albums which included the band’s self-titled debut album and the follow up ‘Kinda Kinks’, the pressure was on. Things seemed to be getting to the young musicians. There was a legendary confrontation between drummer Mick Avory and Dave Davies during a show at Capitol Theatre in Cardiff, Wales. The spat culminated with Avory hurling his hi-hat stand at Davies. It was a direct hit, catching Davies in the neck area. Avory was so freaked out by the resulting bloodshed, he took off. For his part, Dave Davies received 16 stitches to close the gash. Avory was spared any legal action due to Davies quick thinking. He placated the police by claiming that attacking each other with instruments was part of their stage act. The police were bewildered, but perhaps they saw these antics as just a natural evolution from the standard set by The Who? All is fair in love and rock and roll.

A short time later, as The Kinks embarked on their first North American tour to promote ‘Kinda Kinks’ another incident occurred. While the band managed to circle the wagons when there was internal strife, things didn’t go quite so well when someone on the outside attacked their character. The Kinks had developed a reputation for their rowdiness, so the American Federation of Musicians refused the necessary permits for the band to perform in the United States for what eventually amounted to four years. Obviously, this made promoting albums extremely difficult. One incident that may have led to the ban occurred while The Kinks were taping a performance on Dick Clark’s television show ‘Where the Action Is’. According to Ray Davies it went down like this:

Some guy who said he worked for the TV company walked up and accused us of being late. Then he started making anti-British comments. Things like ‘Just because the Beatles did it, every mop-topped, spotty-faced limey juvenile thinks he can come over here and make a career for himself.'”

Ray Davies

As the story goes, a punch was thrown and the ultimate fallout was the ban by the American Federation of Musicians, that was lifted in 1969, following some tactical negotiations by Ray Davies. Between ‘Kinda Kinks’ and their ultimate return to the United States, The Kinks released a string of hits in the U.K. This success was negatively balanced by Ray Davies’ struggles with a nervous and physical breakdown and the (temporary) departure of bassist Pete Quaife, who was involved in a car accident. The Kinks also took a page from the Beatles playbook and drastically reduced their touring schedule in order to focus on perfecting their material in studio. While this decision suited Ray Davies approach quite well, it was not necessarily popular with the rest of the band. Most notably, Dave Davies who released ‘Death of a Clown’ as a solo single and considered leaving the band. As all of this was happening, The Kinks were taking on a rather cult-like status in North America. As their many great songs filtered their way across the Atlantic, music fans who kept track of the pre-eminent British Invasion acts waited patiently for the next big song or album by The Kinks. As we all know that massive breakthrough occurred in 1970 when The Kinks released ‘Lola’ on the album ‘Lola Versus Powerman and the Moneygoround, Part One’. Temporarily, at least, the good times were back…

Back to ‘Where Have All the Good Times Gone’ here is a solid live version of the song recorded during a live BBC session in late December of 1965. It is in this space that The Kinks excelled. As always, The Kinks ability to relate becomes their greatest asset. They are one of the finest rock and roll bands ever. A clear tribute to their lack of pretense and ability to reflect their surroundings.

While searching for quality covers of ‘Where Have All the Good Times Gone’ I discovered this recording by The Shapes. Not much is known of this German band from Frankfurt, but they did a solid job.

A decade and a half later here are The Kinks performing for the German television show Rockpalast.

Through the years ‘Where Have All the Good Times Gone’ has been released on well over 50 compilations packages. It exists as one of their best-known hits.

So often, the adulation for the great bands comes from their industry peers. Consider the impact The Kinks had on artists like David Bowie. Ray Davies approach to his craft opened doors for many artists when it came to themes discussed in lyrics, and ways to present the material. As we all know, Bowie took this to a different level. Always a fascinating evolution. Here is David Bowie from his 1973 release ‘Pinups’.

Perhaps the most powerful example of The Kinks influence was Van Halen. Here is their cover of ‘Where Have All the Good Times Gone’ which features the great Eddie Van Halen on guitar. As www.loudersound.com states:

This version sounds like a band at its absolute stadium-straddling happiest.”

Loudersound

From a listeners vantage point Van Halen always seemed to be at the centre of good times.

By virtue of the Ted Tocks Covers mission, it is here that this post will conclude, but not before we reflect on the anniversary of Eddie Van Halen’s passing, one year ago today. While The Kinks were an immensely popular band at the forefront of the British Invasion, Van Halen played a role in delivering their work to a new generation of music fans.

As we remember the contribution Eddie Van Halen made to the music world consider this. In February of 2017, the renowned guitarist donated 75 guitars from his eclectic personal collection to Mr. Holland’s Opus Foundation. This program provides musical instruments to students in low-income schools.

Because in the end Eddie Van Halen never forgot where he came from. When he was a young boy of seven, his mother and father and older brother Alex, who as we all know became Van Halen’s drummer immigrated to the United States. When the family arrived, they are said to have had the clothes on their back, $50 cash and a piano. From these humble beginnings, a life in music was forged for the brothers. To their eternal credit, they managed to pay it forward both in music and in kind.

Because…#MusicisLife.

Wherever there is good music you won’t have to look too far for the good times.

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